Fiji takes concrete steps toward a low-carbon future

Blue Concrete Initiative team undertakes a site visit at Pacific Cement, Fiji. Picture: FIJI GOVT


Fiji’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, His Excellency Dr Satyendra Prasad, announced the launch of the Blue Concrete Initiative at a side event of the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion at the COP 27 climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, yesterday.

The initiative will lay the foundations for the introduction of low-carbon cement to Fiji and ensure that key concrete inputs such as aggregate are sourced in a way that is both sustainable and builds resilient local supply chains.

“The Blue Concrete Initiative demonstrates the commitment of the Government of Fiji to prioritise climate action while also supporting the establishment of innovative domestic value chains that utilise our resources and generate employment,” said Dr Satyendra Prasad, Head of Fiji’s Delegation to COP27.

“We hope to set an example that will be followed by larger emitters to innovate and take action to reduce emissions in concrete and infrastructure supply chains.”

Cement and concrete are the most widely used building materials in the world, and cement is a major contributor to global climate change, accounting for around 7-8 per cent of all anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Yet, at the same time, cement and concrete are critical for constructing infrastructure and in climate change adaptation.

The import of clinker, one of the main raw ingredients of cement, to Fiji is amongst the most expensive in the world, inhibiting development, as well as the ability to adapt to the effects of climate change due to a lack of affordable and reliable supply of materials to construct resilient coastal infrastructure and housing.

Professor Daniel Franks, Deputy Director (Research) of The University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute, a key partner of the Initiative said, “The Blue Concrete Initiative will support the transfer of low carbon concrete technology to Fiji and the Pacific, build resilience in regional supply chains, create a reliable and affordable source concrete for infrastructure, and ensure that key concrete inputs such as aggregate, limestone, clay and gypsum are sourced sustainably and match the values of the Blue Pacific.”

Fiji is a major supplier of cement for many Pacific Small Island Developing States, with the project set to benefit regional climate mitigation and adaptation efforts.

“Pacific Small-Island Developing States account for only 0.03% of global emissions, yet we are taking concrete steps to reduce our emissions and lead by example,” said His Excellency Dr Satyendra Prasad.

“We urge the global community to follow the Pacific’s lead and urgently reduce cement emissions as our future depends on it.”

Low-carbon concrete based on Limestone Calcined Clay Cement (LC3) has the potential to reduce Fiji’s annual carbon emissions by 4%, deliver significant infrastructure cost savings, and increase employment in the cement and minerals sectors. Concrete made with LC3 is also more durable than alternative types of cement and has greater resistance to high chloride environments, which makes it particularly suitable for coastal infrastructures such as roads, bridges, and seawalls.

“LC3 uses local resources, is less energy intensive, and produces up to 40% less CO2 emissions compared to Ordinary Portland Cement”, said Dr Soumen Maity from TARA, the technology application partner and regional leader for LC3 in the Asia-Pacific.

The Initiative is the result of a partnership between the Fiji Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, The University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute, Technology and Action for Rural Advancement, the Pacific Community, the ACP-EU Development Minerals Program, implemented by UNDP, and the Indian Institute for Technology Delhi.

The Fiji Government invites development partners to mobilise resources to implement this crucial Initiative. The first phase will run for three years.

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